I’ve just returned from the Washington State Bar Convention in Vancouver B.C. I was fortunate to have chaired the Friday portion which involved talks that were limited to ten minutes each. It always impresses mehow much you can say in ten minutes. When you think about 30 second commercials and the television shows that have 2.5 minutes of cross examination, you realize that we often use far too much time to make our points in trial.
Milo Frank wrote a book How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds. In it he argues that when it comes to making a point you should do it in 30 seconds even if you have five minutes or five hours to talk. He says the heart of the matter should take only 30 seconds to be the most effective. He says the one hour of yesterday is the 30 seconds of today because that’s the ideal length of time to get your point across. That, he says, is the attention span of the modern human race.
Why do lawyers often ramble and bore jurors to death? Because it is hard work to prepare for short talk. It takes far more time to prepare a 30 second talk than for a three hour talk. Lawyers take the easy way out and don’t do the hard work that’s required to make your point quickly and make it well. We all need to practice keeping our points short, to the point and interesting.